The Aussie mine boss story
Warwick Lorenz, Managing Director of Australian Pump Industries, takes an insightful look into the past, present and future of Australia’s mining equipment manufacturing industry.
It’s tremendously encouraging to see companies re-evaluating the idea of manufacturing mining and construction equipment right here in the country! The honeymoon with cheap third world products at irresistibly low prices seems to be coming to an end!
Some of us are old enough to remember leading manufacturers of mining and construction gear coming to Australia in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s with a plan to build that equipment in Australia. Some even remember that we had a home-grown mobile machinery manufacturing industry, that felt it could do anything.
The country used to build Allis Chalmers motor graders at Bennets Green near Newcastle in NSW. At the huge Rydalmere plant of the old Tutt Bryant empire, they were building 150 tonne dump trucks and “Tourna-Dozers”.
In those days, manufacturers were protected by tariff barriers, some as high as 55%. Getting import licences was also a challenge! We have to remember, thinking back to those days, the population was a fraction of today’s and the wealth of the country revolved around Merino wool, not iron ore, coal, gas and gold!
As those tariffs came down, imports became substantially more attractive (relaxed import regulations) and Australian manufacturers found themselves up against mass producers from the US, Europe and ultimately Japan! Great companies like Caterpillar, Euclid, Komatsu and Liebherr all entered the Australian market. They were followed by a horde of great excavator brands to replace the old Australian made “backhoes”.
The rest is history, with most manufacturers, even the innovative Chris Pannell (Pannell Plant compaction equipment) either became importers or simply disappeared.
The New Wave of Innovation
What pleases us is to see a new generation of innovative companies building machines, based on the ‘Australian Experience’.
Who would have thought we would become the world’s greatest miners? It seemed like the death and destruction of Australian manufacturing is not an entirely true story. Sure, we lost thousands of apprenticeships but, we know that the innovators will ultimately win.
Australia’s Mining Review newspaper is full of them, emerging confidently, inspired by the industry.
What Aussie miners want
What they really want is more time! Everything gets back to efficiency levels, cutting downtime with more productivity! As a pump manufacturer, we’ve had experiences where mining companies have bought third world pump equipment, only to find out that there are problems with both the pump and engine. That can become a critical issue, particularly in so many applications that involve the transfer of liquid!
A flooded mine is not productive. Leaking pipes, can generate not only potential contamination but, in a situation of health issues, can even shut down the mine. System blockages and constricted pipes can ruin efficiencies, generate system failures and have catastrophic results.
Production is everything and mining equipment suppliers work every day to generate solutions to combat those potential problems. Most of all, we see a growing unrest and distrust of cheap third world products and a tendency to move with products that are well known for their reliability, safety standards and ethics. It may sound corny but, when it comes down to it, miners, unions and mine owners all want the same thing! A safe, productive environment for a successful outcome!
The Aussie Pump approach
Here at Aussie Pumps, we’ve got a simple formula. We want to build and supply pumps and pressure cleaners for miners that we would want to use if we were operating in those potentially dangerous and demanding environments. Having faced that, and after lots of contact and feedback from mines of all types and sizes, we gradually evolved a product line that is truly Australian.
The products include self priming centrifugal pumps that are ultra reliable. We even warrant our pump ends for five years from the date of supply.
That’s something we’ve noticed none of our competitors have been courageous enough to do. Traditionally, we matched them to first world diesel engines, to ensure that our customers only get the very best, in terms of aftermarket support.
The engine warranty is the responsibility of the engine manufacturer. The OEM, in this case, Australian Pump Industries, is responsible for what we bolt onto it and for the match testing to make sure that it runs smoothly and within the power range.
We work with great companies like Kubota, Yanmar, Hatz and Deutz to make sure what we’re putting together is a ‘perfect match’ of product to engine.
A very successful formula
Firstly the team at Aussie worked to develop the world’s best self priming pump range. Initially this was our QP (Quik Prime) range of water transfer pumps. We got great support from engine manufacturers and only worked with the best.
Originally configured for agricultural applications, Aussie turned them into products suitable for what are probably the worst operating conditions on the planet. We didn’t only work directly with miners but, with great hire companies like Coates, who have been deeply involved in the mining industry for decades. Coates’ reputation is based on reliability and performance with kit that works.
As a result of that continuous evolution of experience, we started building pumps which were designed for the rough handling in tough conditions. We started with trash pumps!
Enter the mine boss
2”, 3” and 4” engine drive trash pumps used to be regarded as disposable items on sites. We heard stories of pumps being buried when they failed. Today, we build them super tough.
We started with big 3” and 4” heavy duty QP trash pumps, powered by Yanmar 10 hp electric start diesel engines. Our engineers put together frames that were tough enough to look like they came out of a North American blacksmith shop, hot dipped gal’d and with huge integrated lifting bars. Today Aussie have transitioned to using stainless steel frames on the Mine Boss series for their corrosion resistant capabilities.
To comply with mining requirements and with a plan to keep operators safe, the pumps are fitted with battery isolation, E-stops , fire extinguishers and loads of fluorescent tape.
More head please
Aussie’s Mine Boss trash pumps are fitted with big open impellers for solids handling and delivering large flows. However, by design they are not capable of performing in high head applications. To solve that problem Aussie Pumps adapted a big 4” high pressure fire pump, designed for village fire protection, into the Mine Boss configuration. Fitted with closed impellers the pumps can deliver exceptional high head performance. An example is 400 lpm and 50 m head from a 3”or 4” self primer.
Now available in 3” and 4” options, these pumps, part of the original fire pump “Brigade Boss” are set up for use in mines. That means fitted into Aussie’s heavy duty stainless steel frames with E-stop, battery isolation and fire extinguisher.
An integrated lifting bar makes them easy to move around and they handle heads as high as 70 m! That combination of high flow and high head means they can be applied to numerous chores around mine sites. The self priming capability makes them fast to set up and simple to start.
New kid on the block
Primarily used for water transfer the bodies of these Aussie QP Mine Boss series are manufactured from aluminium.
However, the need for handling corrosive and abrasive water has seen the Aussie Mine Boss story evolve into heavy duty cast iron pumps and even 316 stainless steel versions!
Feedback from the mining industry has pushed Aussie Pumps to develop two new 4” high flow pumps in Mine Boss configuration; one in cast iron and one in stainless steel.
The cast iron version, driven by a 25HP Kohler KD625 diesel engine, is in a semi trash configuration and features an open style impeller. This will deliver a maximum flow of 2300 lpm and a total head to 29 metres. Called the B4XR-A/STD the cast iron construction delivers even better longevity in tough conditions pumping solids contaminated water.
The big open style impeller will pass spherical compressible solids in suspension up to 39mm in diameter! Apart from that, these big, simple pumps come with stainless steel wear plates and silicon carbide mechanical seals with counter-face and nitrile rubber elastomers.
The cast 316 stainless steel version, also driven by a Kohler KD625 diesel, will provide real capability for pumping highly corrosive liquids. The cast stainless steel impeller is designed to deliver more total head, up to 31 metres, but slightly less flow, 2100 lpm with a reduced solids handling capability (down to 32mm).
Aussie expect to make further refinements to the Mine Boss frame used on these new pumps but we are pleased with initial feedback from the market.
More fire power
Although the Aussie Fire Chief was regarded as the world’s best lightweight portable fire pump, building it as a Mine Boss version had some challenges. We powered it by an L48 Yanmar 4.8 hp diesel engine, but built it into a super heavy duty stainless steel frame with integrated balanced lift bar.
The frame with sub base and anti-vibration mounts, like all our Mine Boss machines, was accompanied by battery isolation, E-stop and the essential fire extinguisher. The pumps were a huge success and were quickly followed by twin impeller super high head versions, capable of delivering up to 90 m head, and flows as high as 450 lpm. They are compact, reliable and all backed by Aussie’s free extended warranty!
Here at Aussie Pumps, we are focused on Australian design, using only first world components. That way, we plan to continue to develop machines which are targeted to be the best of their kind in the world. That sounds pretentious but the Aussie Mine Boss fire pumps and our high head product lines are already in service all around the globe.
We are so proud of the Aussie Mine Boss product range and it gives us hope for Australian manufacturers. We just simply must be better than imports, provide product which is more suitable for all the applications and put them on the market at a reasonable price. It’s a challenge for all of us in the manufacturing business. However, if you’re going to be successful in manufacturing, you can’t just cut costs to beat importers.
For further information and the continuation of the Mine Boss concept applied to the pressure cleaner range of Aussie’s products, contact Australian Pump Industries. For more information on the continuing development of the Aussie Mine Boss range, see the next edition of Australian Mining Review.
Visit Aussie Pumps at – www.aussiepumps.com.au